Experience a Day in the Life: Marylee Dunbar, Our Campus Barista
CoverMyMeds employees work exceptionally hard to help get people the medicine they need. Thankfully, Marylee Dunbar keeps them caffeinated on the job, while also providing welcome relief from those pesky 2 p.m. afternoon slumps. Meet Marylee and discover why CoverMymeds is her best place to work and grow as a culinary professional in Columbus.
If Marylee Dunbar had to describe herself in three words, she’d choose: passionate, energetic and hyper. Chat with her for five minutes, and you’ll probably agree — she’s a walking, talking shot of espresso in human form with a buzzing personality. Which makes perfect sense considering she’s CoverMyMeds’ campus barista in Columbus.
Marylee’s first day at CoverMyMeds was March 12, 2020 — exactly three days before the COVID-19 pandemic sent employees to work from home. Despite that less-than-ideal start, Marylee jumped into virtual meetings with her culinary team coworkers, helping to plan menus and design a coffee bar for our headquarters’ eventual reopening.
Now, almost three years later, Marylee is one of the most recognizable faces at CoverMyMeds. Not only is she likely the first person many employees see when they arrive at work, but she also provides them with those all-important, 2 p.m. pick-me-ups. To dig a little deeper into Marylee’s career at CoverMyMeds, we sat down for a chat.
What do you do at CoverMyMeds?
Technically, my official title is “Cook II” on the culinary team, but I’m colloquially known as the campus barista at CoverMyMeds. Beyond the obvious responsibility of brewing and serving drinks all day long, I also help my manager handle our monthly coffee bar budget based on factors like in-office occupancy and on-campus events.
We get creative with money management by estimating how many people will be on campus from week to week. For example, foot traffic slows around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there might be more wiggle room to work with. I’m always brainstorming ways to surprise and delight people with healthy, delicious beverages — no Starbucks needed around here.
I also help our culinary team prepare for the influx of employees every day. It can be hard to predict since our people have the option to work from home. But if I happen to see, say, 50 new faces one morning — or it looks like everyone brought in a guest — then I’ll let our kitchen know so they can better predict how busy our lunch rush will be.
What’s a typical day at work like?
On a typical day, I clock in at 6:45 a.m. If I’m expecting a truck delivery, maybe a little earlier. The first thing I do is clean and sanitize our coffee pots, tea canisters and milk dispensers. Then it’s time for our culinary team’s morning meeting — we talk about any catering events happening on campus that day so we can prepare in advance.
From 8-10 a.m., I’m usually on coffee bar duty, greeting employees as they get to work and settle in for the day. After lunch, around 2 p.m., I prepare for another storm. That’s when employees are most lethargic, I think — they just ate lunch, they’re in an afternoon slump and they need a caffeine kick. That’s where I come in!
If we have an event happening that afternoon or evening on campus, I’ll help our culinary team with any set-up needs. Otherwise, the coffee bar closes at 2:30 p.m. every day, then it’s time for me to clean and sanitize everything again, plus restock supplies for the next morning. There’s truly never a dull moment — my days fly by.
I don’t feel like I’m ever limited in my career growth here. I’m always encouraged to do what feels right to me.
What makes CoverMyMeds your best place to work and grow?
I’ve been in the culinary industry half my life — my first job was at a Donatos Pizza when I was 14 years old! After that, I worked almost exclusively in restaurants and retail environments. It’s been a wild ride with lots of lessons learned along the way.
The culinary industry can be extremely grueling — it’s not always about what you’ve done. Rather, it’s about how long you’ve been somewhere. And when you move jobs, you typically have to start over and prove yourself before you advance in your career. But that wasn’t my experience at CoverMyMeds.
My team — specifically Shey Jin, senior manager of culinary operations — trusted my skillset off the bat. During the interview for my Cook II role, all I talked about was coffee, coffee, coffee, because I wanted to open a coffee bar on campus. Four months later, I got the go-ahead to make moves.
I don’t feel like I’m ever limited in my career growth here. I’m always encouraged to do what feels right to me. The coffee bar is truly my baby — it's the most hands-on project I’ve ever accomplished, and I feel 100% responsible for ensuring its success.
Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, any holiday recipes you can share?
Ohhh, our holiday drinks are my favorite! I try to create our beverage menus a year in advance. Right now, I’ve got everything planned through May 2023. For November specifically, we’re serving some cozy, festive drink specials like pumpkin spice, caramel pecan and peppermint mocha lattes. Since December’s a few weeks away, I’ll share my recipe for peppermint mochas — it serves about four people.
Marylee’s Peppermint Mochas
- 4 cups milk (see Note 1)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate (chips, chunks or shavings)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (see Note 2)
- ½ tsp peppermint extract
- 4 tsp instant coffee
- ¼ cup whipped cream (optional)
- 1 tablespoon crushed candy cane (optional)
Instructions In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder.
To the mixture add milk, chocolate chips and peppermint extract. Whisk to emulsify.
Place over medium heat and bring to a light boil, stirring constantly. Be sure the chocolate is fully incorporated before removing from heat.
Remove pan from heat and allow to cool to desired temperature.
Using a ladle, portion out desired amount of peppermint mocha into a mug.
Add 1-1 ½ tsp instant coffee to your mug and stir
Garnish with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Note 1: Use any milk you like — dairy, almond and soy all work
Note 2: Sweeten the recipe based on your personal preferences
If you could swap jobs with anybody for a day, who would it be?
Hmmm, probably somebody on our developer team! They do a ton of troubleshooting, which is one of my favorite things to do — solve problems in unique ways. I immediately think of Jonathan Stevens, a software engineer. He’s the only name I know off the top of my head — everyone else I know by their coffee order! I’d love to dive into the innovation aspect of CoverMyMeds. Even though I get to be creative in my role, that’s a vastly different thought process I’d love to explore.
My job isn’t only about serving coffee — it’s also remembering somebody just adopted a puppy or attended their kid’s first soccer game last weekend.
How does your job contribute to CoverMyMeds’ mission?
Happy people do better work, and I like to think I play a key role in employee engagement. My job isn’t only about serving coffee — it’s also about remembering somebody just adopted a puppy or attended their kid’s first soccer game last weekend. I represent a break in the day for many employees, a reminder to walk away from their desks to clear their heads.
Our folks work really, really hard to help people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives — having a coffee bar on campus is a perk for them to enjoy. The more you give to people, the more they give back to you.
Want to work at CoverMyMeds and get coffee from Marylee? Apply for an open position on our careers page.
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